The NICE Initiative is the process by which female entrepreneurs successfully and profitably make use of disruptive innovation in technology (social media, iPad use) to orchestrate a legacy for humanity socially and economically. We are hard wired to measure overall job satisfaction and pride in our performance, by calibrating how much of a positive impact we have on community, not just ourselves.
Mission: To provide strategies, forums, seminars, and opportunities, to help more women partake of both the Entrepreneurial and Tech Revolutions, which have now intersected. It's time.
About.Me Page: http://about.me/NICE.Initiative/#
Book Blog: http://niceinitiativeblog.wordpress.com
"I don’t need a holiday or a feast to feel grateful…but I like to take this time to take the path of thanks less traveled".
- Paula Poundstone
"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."
- Nelson Mandela
Greetings from the road! Today, like many of us, I am hitting the “pause” button. I am mirroring what I wrote about for my book’s Wordpress blogpost, which you can read here. I will return to my theme on this blog about entrepreneurship takeaways re: architecture and artistry next week.
Thanksgiving is a time to connect with others from all backgrounds and all career venues. It is a time to spend with our inner circle in Real Time. For me, it is also Chanukah, a time to visit with family and friends I haven’t seen in a while. But I also wanted to take time to express my gratitude to you, dear readers, who follow me online, and all the virtual mentors and thought leaders whom I follow online. So please allow me to wax poetic today and present my poem, which I wrote for my Huffington Post article this week, Can Entrepreneurship be Taught?
What can we learn about entrepreneurship, marketing, and customer archetypes from the Pilgrims i.e. the settlers/pioneers and the Thanksgiving origin story? Read Diane Bertolin’s terrific blogpost and find out!
What are The Seven Habits of Grateful People? Read this great article by Lindsey Holmes.
What can female entrepreneurs do for each other? We can ask for help, and be grateful and supportive when it is given. We can provide a breadcrumb trail for other women to follow. We can share our Story, strategies, and soliloquy, either online in blogs and other social media channels, or in Real Time at conferences and networking events. Here is a slice of mine….
I just visited California, dubbed by Patrick Hanlon "The New State of Innovation." I went to participate in the 11/25/13 social entrepreneurship forum, “The Future of Education in a Globally Connected World” sponsored by Hack for Big Choices in Palo Alto, CA. I went because I was making a stand on behalf of female entrepreneurs everywhere. I was on a mission to prove that entrepreneurship today involves not only disruptive innovation but thought leadership and civic engagement for real world problems needing collaborative, creative and male-and female-generated solutions, such as how we educate our children. I went because I was the lone female panelist at this particular event.
As Vivek Wadwa tweeted: “Good, there’s a woman on the panel. This is Silicon Valley, and you don’t see many!”
What a shame! As both an educator and entrepreneur, I believe in both the collective intelligence and creativity of women to pioneer innovation and change. I believe in the inherent goodness of humanity and in the power of gratitude as a profound change agent for the greater good. I believe that entrepreneurial thinking re: the steps leading up to innovation can be taught. On behalf of my Entrepreneurial Sisterhood, I would like to express my thankfulness for the roads taken, not yet taken, the people we meet along the way, and the ones we hope to connect with in the future:
Ode to Thanksgiving, by an Entrepreneur
By Penina Rybak, CEO Socially Speaking LLC
I’m honored to be on this journey,
To have the chance to learn the “lay of the land”
I’m enjoying meeting other entrepreneurs
Embracing change and making a stand
I’m in awe of their depth of knowledge,
Their devotion and love for their craft
I’m thankful for all my actual and virtual mentors,
Who answer my myriad questions, without thinking me daft
I’m amused I’ve joined the Twitterati
Furiously typing, clamoring to be heard
I’m enchanted by all the bloggers
Whose thought leadership I share, with the click of the “bird”
I’m humbled by my clients
For their unwavering support and belief in me
I’m appreciative of my social media followers
For taking time to read my writings, for taking time to see
I’m so happy for my iOS Zite App
Helping me “stay in the know”
I’m so thrilled for my Apple iPad
Which has become essential to my workflow
I’m grateful for this opportunity
To make a difference; somehow, somewhere
I thank The Huffington Post for its content and diversity,
For letting me contribute, for letting me share
Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Chanukah!
"The painter… does not fit the paints to the world. He most certainly does not fit the world to himself. He fits himself to the paint. The self is the servant who bears the paintbox and its inherited contents."
- Annie Dillard
"The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself."
- Peter Drucker
Part 5: Minimalist Marketing Does Not Mean Paucity of Content!
In last week’s post on Tumblr, I touched upon social media as a marketing tool, and the inherent pitfalls, as seen from the Autism Speaks controversy spawning a viral response online. I will return to the topic of social technology in a future post, as it is an important arena for female entrepreneurship.
In today’s post, I want to resume my lessons for female entrepreneurs, seen through my NICE Lens. One that has been shaped by my behavior as both an Autism Specialist/speech therapist, and a startup female entrepreneur in today’s economy.
Economics after all, is all about behavior, and the societal and geopolitical trends contributing to a behavior’s increase or decline.
Entrepreneurship is much more than a career choice. It is a state of mind, honed by the synthesis of takeaways gleaned from various experiences, various mentors and archetypes teaching us about life, and a deep understanding that the whole is MUCH more than just the sum of its parts.
That is why I am so interested in architectural vs. artistic behavior, and how successful, productive, visionary entrepreneurs engage in both. I have noticed that people who act like an architect about their Plan, but tweak it and respond to changes in it, like an artist, are the ones who do well. The ones who tap into their potential, and have an easier time bridging gaps between aspiration and achievement, especially re: entrepreneurship.
I recently saw a very interesting movie, which I actually loved, and wanted to compliment. It really resonated with me; as both a single woman playing the “Dating Game”, and a startup entrepreneur playing the “Find the Patterns and Create Disruptive Innovation For Them Game” i.e. entrepreneurship. Til There Was You, a relatively unknown and unpopular film from 1997, is about a starry eyed, idealistic, artistic, somewhat lost female ghost writer searching for “The One”, who exists by standing on the sidelines of her own life and avidly romanticizing the lives of others; her parents, her married childhood best friend. The other protagonist is a hardened, ambitious, plays- by certain- rules but breaks others, “lone wolf” type, an architect searching for his Big Break. He exists by pursuing his next distraction from his emotional turmoil, in the guise of a new “flavor of the month”, if you get my drift. He is just the kind of player we women want to avoid!
But there is something endearing about him, even though he does some dumb, hurtful things….chain smoking being the least of them! Despite the incorrect subliminal messages that it’s a matter of fate to find Mr. Right out there, and that it’s OK to smoke and lie about it, I found that this movie stayed with me long after it was over.
The authentic dialogue, overall creative plot, and unexpected flourishes of humor, all made for a richly scaffolded tale that reminded me of this current blog series I am writing here on Tumblr. The movie had another message I wanted to share with you:
How you package The Product; your persona, your thoughts, your finished work, and your legacy, hinges on one idea:
Less is More. Minimalist marketing is NOT a paucity of content!
What are my takeaways today from observing/knowing architects and artists?
1. Architects rhapsodize over details in schematics. Artists rhapsodize over the entire creative flow.
Entrepreneurs need to create and tweak their business plan regularly. They need to understand themselves and what makes them “tick”; the way they work, process information, share information, how they envision their role in the Big Picture, and how to turn their dreams into reality. Bob Borson, an architect, wrote one of the BEST essays on what architects actually do, which you can read here. In it he writes something worth keeping in mind:
"It is important to decide what you like doing best so that you can steer your career in that direction. Some architects design houses. Some design schools. Each is a very different experience. Some architects sit at a desk all day. Some architects are outside all day visiting construction sites. Some architects draw all day. Some architects never draw. And some architects do a little of everything."
2. Architects want their works seen, Artists want their work felt.
Entrepreneurs need to target the customer’s heart, not just mind, to woo clients and close deals. Entrepreneurship at its core is about solving a public problem, making people FEEL better equipped to handle it, and even better when finding a solution to it. Entrepreneurs need to publicize their service/product via “emotive marketing”. How? By using passionate storytelling to tap into their customers’ collective emotions about that service/product. Hubspot’s blog posts are testimonials to this idea, which is why I subscribe to them, and why I recommend this free eBook on how to create a lovable marketing campaign. Dan Lyons, the new social media tech blogger for Hubspot’s new blog series, Up and to the Right, is one of my favorite writers there. His recent post about the Google™ Reunion video is a case in point. You can read more about it here.
Vivian White wrote a brilliant post in 2011 for her blog, The Business of Art, which you can read here. In it, she explains what makes for great art:
Entrepreneurs need to integrate thought leadership into their “workflow” which spurs philanthropy and civic engagement, and develop a self-sustaining legacy to help others. I wrote my book, The NICE Reboot, because it’s time to actively change the way we think about entrepreneurship and its “shelf life”. I even wrote an introductory white paper about my book and The NICE Initiative, that I uploaded to my Slideshare account, which you can access here. I also created a book trailer for it on Vimeo, which you can see here.
In my educated opinion as both a pediatric speech therapist and a woman, entrepreneurs have a civic duty to become actual and virtual mentors to others, to provide guidance and thought leadership to others, to jumpstart social reform. I touched on this in my recent Wordpress blogpost about leadership, and will touch on it again on my new post later this week about legacies.
That’s why blogging meaningful content, and leveraging social technology for the greater good is so important. That’s why learning lessons from diverse people and diverse sources is so crucial, which is why I just wrote about entrepreneurship lessons the Pilgrims teach us, for The Huffington Post, and why I am headed to CA to be one of the lone female panelists who will speak about "The Future of Education in a Globally Connected World".
Pam Dyer seemingly thinks like an architect when she provides a great Infographic and 9 steps to creating good content for your brand. Shari Alexander apparently thinks like an architect when she breaks down the process of entrepreneurship, and provides lessons on how to act like an artist, which you can read about here. I am very impressed with the thought leadership and quality content provided by Entrepreneur, especially this article. In it, we learn how entrepreneurs can emulate artists and also become thought leaders online and in real time:
• “Be brave. Entrepreneurs and artists share one important quality: they both put their heart and soul on the line for others to see and judge.”
• “Have a support group. Actors, painters, writers, and all artists understand the value of finding a safe place to practice their craft, try new things and receive feedback. For this reason artists often attend classes. Entrepreneurs need to find or create a similar support group.”
I am trying to take these lessons to heart, by joining the blogsphere and finding my “tribes”. Ones passionate about entrepreneurship, like the one created by Adii Piennar, who wrote a book and launched a forum called Public Beta. Ones passionate about social media marketing, like Diane Bertolin’s blog, and Andrea Vascarelli’s blog.
I am trying to contribute, by blogging here on Tumblr about The NICE Initiative for Female Entrepreneurship (TBA), writing about my upcoming NICE Reboot book on Wordpress, and providing a series of “Penina’s Pointers” about female entrepreneurship for The Huffington Post. I am trying to learn and grow, so that I can positively set an example and impact on the lives of others, despite my human flaws and mistakes, despite the chaos and mess of plans gone awry and artistic vision misunderstood or lost in the shuffle of others’ attempts, others interpretations.
At the end of the day, entrepreneurs can learn from both architects and artists to “build a better version” of themselves. To access and channel quality content for branding, and better marketing strategies for our “lightening in a bottle” dream product/service. To orchestrate change and provide a meaningful, self-sustaining legacy that lights the way for others, for other disruptive innovation.
Women are already in position to be linchpins, more than you know. There has never been a better time to embrace change, and pursue female entrepreneurship and its byproducts, leaving a legacy that touches others, more than you know.
Let me end with these profound words from Andy Jones in 2006, posted by Suresh Choudhary on the Suresh on Art blog:
What Makes a Great Artist:
"The power to evoke strong emotions in someone with art is a rare feat. Only art with meaning, spirit and a depth that can’t be easily explained can achieve this. To ask someone to go out and create something that will move people is like asking someone to go out and make people fall in love with them. The magic of good art and a good artist is it happens and its something that cannot be explained.
So to me a great artist is someone who can change the way you feel and maybe even change the way you think. And that great artist is sometimes the most unexpected of people - the person who doesn’t realise they are changing the way people feel or think.
A great artist won’t create for prestige, or notoriety, or acceptance, or money, or immortality. They just create because…because.
They create. And the creation carries on creating long afterward the artist.”
This is what my NICE philosophy is all about! This is what this blogseries is all about. To be continued……
"People take things at face value on social media. Earnestness is the assumption."
- Mindy Kaling
"The information you get from social media is not a substitute for academic discipline at all."
- Bill Nye
Part 4: Be Socially Savvy in Today’s Fast Paced, Global Economy
This week has been a strange one for me. On Sunday I went to a sad “social” event nobody wants to attend, and despite good intentions, becomes a reunion of sort. I attended and spoke at the unveiling for my best friend and mentor Dr. Natalie “Nechah” Hochstein PsyD, who lost her valiant battle to breast cancer 11 months ago. She is the reason I’ve been able to become the speech therapist/ Autism specialist with a unique perspective. She’s my inspiration for writing my book and diligently pursuing entrepreneurship. Standing in the cemetery and seeing some people unobtrusively checking their phones, and even someone furtively swiping at a Twitter feed, made me think. About the human need to connect and communicate. About the human endeavor to be both an architect and artist in the way he/she lives life. About our growing obsession with social media. About the power and pitfalls of it.
It used to be that when we heard the word social, it brought to mind etiquette. Table manners and related stuff our grandparents tried to instill in us. Ways of doing things for, and interacting with, other people, which Anne Landers wrote about. Itemized actions we were graded on in preschool report cards, and maybe later on by a prospective date, especially a blind one!
Then the word social became associated with communication, as in aspects re: appropriate conduct and behavior that we teach children in special education, particularly those with Autism. That’s my background, which is why I named my boutique educational consulting company Socially Speaking LLC in 2009, and created a noticeable digital footprint for it starting in 2010. My entrepreneurial MVP (minimally viable product) became my Socially Speaking™ Social Skills Seminars, which educated parents/professionals around North America about the integrating of toys and tech into treatment of young children with Autism/special needs who have behavioral/social skills challenges.
I have tried to do so without judgement. I have tried to do so without spreading pessimism, ignorance, and fear. Through my social skills curriculum and social technology channels, I have tried to provide practical, upbeat, and important information for the Autism Community for a while now. In fact, the day Susan Wright’s Call to Action went viral, I was unaware, in a school in NY, giving my full day social skills curriculum seminar to a room full of caring educators, who are trying to work together to help children with Autism, positively, humorously, and lovingly.
Which is why I am saddened, and like Laura Shumaker, (writer and Autism advocate for SF Gate), “feeling very discouraged by the recent remarks by Suzanne Wright, who founded Autism Speaks with her husband, Bob Wright, former CEO of NBC”. Laura is a fantastic mother of a child with Autism, and like many other parents, including the wonderful dad whose eloquent, reactive blogpost moved me to tears, Pucks and Puzzle Pieces, and Stuart Duncan, another terrific father of a child with Autism, who wrote one of the best rebuttals in his recent blogpost on Autism From a Father’s Point of View.
In it, he wrote:
"Autism Speaks, the largest and most powerful autism organization there is with enough real power to make a real positive difference.
Ah to dream.
I mean, don’t get me wrong. They have brought about some big changes and it can be argued that they have raised more awareness than pretty much anyone else in history. But at what cost? And using what methods?
Fear. A lot of fear.
They have a long history of fear mongering with videos that depict autism as a deep voiced child predator or as an epidemic that makes moms want to throw their children off a bridge.”
Parents are not alone in their bewilderment, disappointment, disgust, and outrage. Special education professionals like myself feel these reactions too. Tim Villegas, a special educator, speaks for many of us when he wrote, "When an organization like Autism Speaks continually misses opportunities to do the right thing and listen to the people they are supposedly advocating for…it saddens me. And if you are a special educator…it should sadden you too."
It’s amazing what social technology can do. It’s disheartening to see people misunderstand/misuse its impact, and meaningfully contribute (or not) to the reality of today’s society that has become much more of what Shakespeare said about the world being a public stage and all the people are its players. Which is I why I wrote a book about how to balance technology, including social technology, with our humanity. The word social is being used to connote one’s digital footprint, as in having a social media presence online. Like a footprint, it lingers long after it is made, and can be seen by others who didn’t see who made it.
Something Susan Wright should have remembered. In my opinion, her inflammatory statements seemed to indicate her own depth of pain and confusion about her own grandson’s Autism. I feel for her, but she should have remembered that she is not a grandmother, when she gets to Washington DC. She is the face of a company that SHOULD speak for ALL its members/supporters/prospective clients/target demographic. Autism Speaks after all, is a company like any other that can have vast influence, resources, impact, and outcomes, if the mission statement and business plan are drafted with architectural precision and executed publicly with flawless, humane artistry. That means wielding social technology wisely and meaningfully, something Autism Speaks did NOT do this week. Much to my surprise and chagrin.
It used to be that an organization/ company’s culture would be an internal, mysterious miasma only privy to a select few. A company’s agenda is what was promoted, and what the masses would be privy to, via targeted ad campaigns and newsletters. That is why social media has become so important. It merges company culture (blogs, YouTube, Vimeo, Vine, and Instagram videos etc.) with corporate agendas (marketing campaigns on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn and networking on Google +) so that everyone becomes both a literary critic and a customer, byproducts of engaging in the “social” part of social media.
Entrepreneurs thus need to remember that social channels are a two way street, and that from the start, there is the need to act like an architect. To engage in methodical intent to leverage mobile technology for today’s changing corporate/educational landscape and economic reality.
That’s why I acted like an architect and went to learn about current trends and best practices re: social technology implementation at the BDI Social Technology Summit in Manhattan on Tues 11/12/13, the day after I gave my social skills seminar about Autism. I was on a quest to answer 3 questions for entrepreneurs to ask themselves when drafting their business plan:
1. What drives your business communication strategy?
2. Social tech promotes a company culture, but can it do more for the business itself re: infrastructure health and customer base?
3. Why hire/outsource/ invest time and money on social technology if you’re already established in Real Time?
What were my takeaways? You can read them in my latest article for The Huffington Post. What’s my reaction to the controversy re: Autism Speaks and the pervasive problem about how to globally address social communication challenges in children in general, not just those with Autism? I am attempting to do the one thing driving my mission, no matter which hat I wear; speech therapist, Autism specialist, educational technology consultant, App developer, Apple™ Techie, female entrepreneur.
I am trying to foster education. Education for children in need. It’s why I created my Socially Speaking™ iPad App and consult for CLASP International. Shannon Benton MA/CCC-SLP, fellow speech therapist and founder/Executive Director of CLASP understands the need to “improve the lives of children and adults with disabilities in developing countries”.
It’s why I am attending and speaking for a social entrepreneurship panel at the “The Future of Education in a Globally Connected World" summit in Palo Alto, CA on 11/25/13 for Hack For Big Choices. Aurora Chiste, Executive Producer understands the need to “empower people worldwide to take action and use their talents to affect change beginning in their communities.” You need not be in the corporate world or a computer programmer to join! A Call to Action (CTA) has been sounded, for all of us who want to make the world better for ALL our children to heed.
We ALL need to act like architects and plan details and infrastructures, but implement those plans more holistically and creatively like artists, especially when engaged in entrepreneurship in today’s fast paced, socially connected, global economy. As Chiste writes on her website:
"We’re looking for the crazy ones, misfits, rebels, troublemakers, and all you who see things differently to have an impact in design/technology, education, and healthcare."
How can female entrepreneurs mesh architectural action with artistic thought to “build a better version of themselves” and leverage social media for good? I give 5 strategies in my latest Wordpress blogpost, inspired by Barbara Streisand performance artist extraordinaire. She was recently interviewed for Glamour, and I wrote about it using my NICE lens. You can access the answer to that question here.
I did it for my Wordpress post, and have to do it again here, especially given the Autism Speaks backlash. I will leave you with a profound quote from social technology thought leader Brian Solis, whose writings I devour. He wrote,“Change happens to you and because of you. It is what perpetually happens next that defines your character and ultimately your legacy.” You can read his profound article here. This particular quote really resonated with me:
“The impact of your work is the result of the balance you place on reacting to, learning from, and transcending teachers, critics and supporters.”
- Brian Solis
When wielded wisely, social media can become a vehicle for life changing, validating, meaningful, and truly beneficial thought leadership. It has the power to connect, but also the power to divide, something I’m sure Susan Wright realized now. Better architectural planning of that speech’s finer points was warranted. More artistic, collaborative, holistic execution was also warranted, so that her statements would represent more than just her feelings. Artists after all, use various mediums to speak for the masses, not just for themselves.
I am unhappy with the wording of the Autism Speaks Call to Action this week in Washington. But as both an Autism Specialist and entrepreneur, I am happy that an underlying Call to Action was heard: Act like an architect but think like an artist. Implement a more structured plan using global resources and technology, to educate ourselves with a varied palette of lessons and perspectives on how to handle universal problems re: education of ALL our children and better healthcare options for ALL families who have unique configurations and needs. That’s the CTA I got from all this, and the one I want to share, by posting today’s Tumblr entry on all my social channels.
Please help me share this post with others. Please work with me on getting this CTA out there. Thanks!
"An effort made for the happiness of others lifts above ourselves."
- Lydia Child
"There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure."
- Colin Powell
Part 3: Put in Effort to Prepare, Show Results Effortlessly
In this series of blogposts I’m writing this month, I’ve been exploring the different aspects and character traits of successful, meaningful entrepreneurship from two seemingly opposing viewpoints; architecture and artistry. The NICE Initiative/NICE Reboot book I wrote, IS all about taking diametrically opposite perspectives and concepts, and redefining them in a more holistic and balanced manner. It is a call to arms for women thinking there is a “right time” to be an entrepreneur! That’s a myth!
It’s a GREAT time to become an entrepreneur, either right away when finished school, or by pursuing a second revenue stream! Women in particular are unknowingly or knowingly positioning themselves to be linchpins, based on our contributions to the changing current economic/political/social climates (think of the bipartisan female senators who ended the government shutdown:) and the unique skill set and mindset we “bring to the table”. Isolationist innovation is out, and collaborative synergy is in; something women intuitively understand and hone.
It would help if we were collectively more tech savvy. I wrote about that in my upcoming book and in my last post here on Tumblr. It would certainly help if we had more government support re: venture capital and healthcare insurance options that were actually viable. I wrote about that in my latest article for The Huffington Post, as a “political wish list” for female entrepreneurs. You can read it here. There are many paths to successful female entrepreneurship, no matter which arena you are in.
Success is predicated on many things, but especially on the effort one puts into achieving it. But the perception of success hinges on one thing; attitude. The attitude and persona a person presents to the world, when showing that he/she “pulled it off”. Being human requires oxymoronic behavior; the acceptance of the yin/yang, push/pull of our mind/heart and body/soul. Being human, and a self-actualized individual for that matter, requires having attitude (in a good way:). One that’s based on our Theory of Mind, actions, learned skills, and impressions of the world around us.
Part of that attitude is having self confidence and simultaneous hubris. Part of that is attitude’s a result of decisive decision making protocols and simultaneous flexibility. Part of that attitude is demonstrated by successfully balancing the display of our inner gears at work, in all its mess, with the presentation of the finished product, in all its glory.
It would definitely help professionally, if we women would truly know when to really put in the effort and show it, and when to show results effortlessly.
What makes up the DNA of the attitude of a successful female entrepreneur? After careful observation, as both a speech therapist/human behaviorist and an entrepreneur, I would like to provide 3 answers and two stories…….
1. Good decision making skills. Architects plot a course of action and stick to the plan….until it stops working for them. On Wednesday evening 11/6/13, I attended a cool Manhattan networking event by excellent motivational speaker/coach/fellow female entrepreneur Jeanne Stafford. it was my first one, and I was very impressed! Different, interesting, hard working, and intelligent people from different walks of life came together to learn, share, and be inspired. Amongst us was a real estate/mortgage broker who lives on a sailboat at the marina, a book publisher, a female television producer for either a news or sports channel (I forget), an emergency room nurse, a lawyer for the entertainment industry, a former public relations consultant for the Coca Cola Company who also practiced politics, a former security expert for the UN and current security consultant named Mike McCann, and Dan McSweeney, the managing director for the SS United States Redevelopment Project. His decision, to join a nonprofit group attempting to turn an old ocean liner into a historic site and hotel in NY, is a great example of the entrepreneurial architecture/artistry attitude and balance I am writing about here on Tumblr.
We all converged inside the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, which houses the Society of Illustrators. Jeanne Stafford, the host, spoke about the power of taking action, and the power of having a better decision making process. She then cleverly asked people to introduce themselves while rating their own decision making ability, and sharing a decision that changed their professional lives. You can download the PDF of her Decision Making Tips, stored in my website’s *FREE* PDF bin, here.
2. Good communication skills. Artists convey their inner landscape through their actions, while giving others opportunities to add layers and “join the dance”. What also impressed me at that gathering was the delicate balance between socializing and networking that everyone engaged in. Networking is an art, and a skill that CAN be honed, like dancing, like pottery, like writing. Networking involves unleashing your inner creativity and harnessing your outer curiosity. How? Communication! Tap into your memory banks and inner landscape i.e. Theory of Mind! Recall places and ideas you experienced or read about! Use humor to “share a moment”! Find common ground! Ask interesting questions! This recent article from Entrepreneur on networking techniques can help.
3. Good public speaking skills. Architects and artists both put in lots of effort to turn their ideas into reality, but one is focused on details, and one is focused on creative flow. A successful speaker is focused on both. Thought leadership is conveyed to people through the written word in books, blogs, papers, and social technology forums, and in keynote speeches delivered at events, conferences, and trade shows. I’m sure Jeanne spent countless hours preparing for her event, going over details, her opening/closing remarks and speech, and writing that deceptively simple, eloquent handout she provided. But she made it look effortless.
Her speech was a ballet of personal details and practical takeaways. She imbued both architecture and artistry in her event and speech, from which we can all learn. You CAN improve your public speaking skills. You CAN more effortlessly highlight your agenda/platform, which you put SO much effort into creating and executing. Brian Halligan, CEO and cofounder of Hubspot, and co-author of the seminal book Inbound Marketing, recently wrote about giving great speeches. Denise Brosseau, author of the upcoming book “Ready to Be a Thought Leader?" also shared practical tips that can help. I have read the “Hubspot bible” and included it in my book’s reading list. I have added Brosseau’s soon to be published book to my Amazon Wish List and Amazon Collection of current books on my radar, that I plan on getting to. I’ll hopefully blog about it one day too.
I still remember being intrigued when “accidentally” finding a fantastic book about business strategy in 2000, and reading in detail about the potential of intellectual property rights as a source of revenue. I am referring to Rich Dad Poor Dad, by guru Robert Kiyosaki. He wrote this ground breaking book before the iPod and iTunes Store launched. Before the Apple™ App Store became the behemoth it is. Before the tech revolution intersected with the entrepreneur revolution. Before the movement to grow female entrepreneurship fully started.
It wasn’t until my best friend and mentor was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer, and we both heard Kiyosaki speak in 2010, hearing his “creative flow” and how he views the Big Picture re: business trends, that something inside me “clicked” and I felt compelled to start my own company. I decided to take my copious notes (before the days of iCloud, Evernote, Pocket, and Google Drive:) and write a manuscript. About how to teach social skills to young children with Autism/special needs, in a more holistic, sequential, and developmental fashion. I then took that manuscript, copyrighted it, trademarked my technique, and created my Socially Speaking™ Program and educational seminars. I took it on the road and have been lecturing about it around North America for the past 3 years. You can learn more about it here.
Kiyosaki’s book and speech also motivated me to develop and sell my customizable, developmental, user-friendly behavioral screener assessment Socially Speaking™ iPad App in iTunes. That made me a bona fide ed-tech entrepreneur, and a fan and student of the lean startup movement and paradigm made popular by the likes of Steve Blank , author of the game changing Four Steps to the Epiphany, and Eric Reis, author of The Lean Startup. I highly recommend that bootstrapping entrepreneurs familiarize themselves with both books and the overall approach, especially the concept of a Minimally Viable Product (MVP). That’s what my App really is!
Architecture and artistry are synthesized when an entrepreneur provides both thought leadership and disruptive innovation. To do so, one needs to be a visionary, in both thought and deed. To read what I wrote about that, access my latest post for my Wordpress blog. Generating powerful speeches that add value, and visionary ideas that foster them in others, takes effort and attitude. Producing an MVP, whether tangible like my App, or intangible like my speaking services, both of which provides creative solutions to a problem, are byproducts of one’s attitude and effort.
Jeanne Stafford knows this. I have learned this. So can you. It begins with being/becoming a more authentic version of yourself and presenting it to the world in a genuine, creative, and helpful manner. Through speeches at public venues. Through social technology platforms such as blogs. Through workplaces and spaces, and professional networking forums. This article by Laurie Erdman entitled Let Your Freak Flag Fly-At Work? really resonated with me. It continues with engaging in specific behaviors that change your thought patterns and change your perceptions of reality and how you interact with others around you. This video on the power of awe, really resonated with me too.
At the end of the day, one needs to devote time and effort to accrue experience, tech savvy, and hone skills in a chosen field of study. But it the balancing act with our humanity, our ability to project our inner landscape, change our attitude, and combine both architecture and artistry in our daily routines and workflows, that really matters.
I hope your endeavors and collective efforts lead to the happiness of others, and to the ongoing redefinition of your own inner and outer attitudes and artistry.
"It may not always be profitable at first for businesses to be online, but it is certainly going to be unprofitable not be online!"
- Esther Dyson
"Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something….they didn’t really do it, they just saw something."
- Steve Jobs
Part 2: Technology is a Tool to Methodically Wield to Foster Creativity
In part 1 of this series, I started to write about what it means for a female entrepreneur to act like an architect but think like an artist. I wrote about it from a cognitive and psycho-social perspective.Today I would like to write about what it means from a technological standpoint. Entrepreneurship by definition means providing disruptive innovation through one’s service/product, and promoting change. The Tech Revolution is in full swing, and more tech based startups are hitting the ground running, hitting the news, hitting the non-profit sector, and are about to hit Wall Street (ex: the Twitter IPO is imminent). I am reminded that technology is the epitome of disruptive innovation, and has been for years, especially Apple™ tech.
Twelve years ago this month, the iPod was introduced to the world, forever changing the public/private, computer/mobile device, and life/work balance as we know it, when it comes to technology. It heralded in the new age of the machine, and set the stage for the iPad to debut, and to be the huge game changer it is poised to become; in education, in healthcare, and in Corporate America. The iPad Air and iPad Mini 2 are launching on November 1, 2013, and the architecture vs. artistry debate will resume for spendthrifts, penny-pinchers, students, teachers, hackers, computer programmers, ed-tech professionals, entrepreneurs, consumers, CEOs, and even today’s tech-savvy children.
As someone who grew up during the first machine age, the dawn of the Digital Age so to speak, I have always had a love affair with tech. I’ve personally been a Mac Girl, tech-geek, card carrying gadget lover since childhood. I say that out loud. With pride. I do get some weird looks. From technophobic people- who puzzle me. Can’t figure them out. When I was a little girl I certainly had my share of Barbie dolls and imaginary tea parties. But I was also the one playing with Luke Skywalker’s light saber (two rulers taped together), doodling spaceships and “pocket phones” in my notepads, and pretending to be on Star Trek’s Enterprise, standing on top of my Etch a Sketch, waiting to “beam down” and embark on a mission with Spock. I was the ultimate dream girl pal for my male cousins, neighbors, and brothers’ friends to hang out with. Why? Because I eschewed manicure/pedicure parties (but you could always count on me to go shoe shopping:) to happily dissect the Green Lantern superhero comics for hours. To eagerly watch the Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and other action, buddy, superhero, bromance, and sci-fi movies for the zillionth time instead of braiding hair or talking on the phone.
It’s no wonder I grew up to become a professional technophile! I am currently an iPad Evangelist, educational technology consultant, Joss Whedon and Tim Kring acolyte, avid Zite reader, and Twitterati fan girl (I’d love to connect-I’m @PopGoesPenina), who secretly yearns for an embossed, personal invitation to attend the CEC Trade-show in NV, the Apple™ WWDC in CA, and speak one day soon at TED.
To me, all facets of technology (mobile, digital, social, social media, big data, The Internet, The Internet of Everything, AI, robotics etc.) are ready to be harnessed, to provide entrepreneurial disruptive innovation and creatively address and problem solve some of the biggest issues in the world. Education. Human Rights. Communication.
To me, technology use is ALL about balancing architecture and artistry! For people who argue with me that iPad use can “shut down the mind”, especially in children, and that technology is “becoming the bane of our existence”, I have one response: You aren’t using it correctly. Technology is a teaching and productivity tool, like any other. When wielded wisely, it can increase one’s time management, creativity, and connectivity, in a methodical, orderly, and scaffolded fashion; building on previously learned skills and behaviors.
Think of an architect drawing plans for a building, using knowledge of geometry, sustainability, and physics to formulate a schematic. Is the job finished? No! It is only after visiting the site himself/herself, to see the vision coming together and becoming a reality, that the creativity and sheer artistry can “kick in”. It results in going back to the drawing board and making adjustments based on design, space, and other artistic considerations, and returning to that site to implement those revisions and adjusted plans.
Technology that is well made, that synthesizes both architecture and artistry in the design and functionality, can do the same thing for entrepreneurs! That’s why I’m ALL about advocating that entrepreneurs balance humanity and technology, at home, at work, and in our minds. No, I don’t mean to sound like an escapee from Isaac Asimov’s book I, Robot (which was made into an awesome film with Will Smith;). But I do mean to point out that technology IS the methodical execution and extension of mankind’s driving need to learn, to establish order amidst chaos, and to create.
One of my favorite virtual mentors, Marty Zwilling, wrote a compelling blogpost in August 2013 entitled Great Entrepreneurs Lead People and Use Technology. In it, he reviewed a book by Terry Pearce, who writes about how good leadership is “the place where soul and science meet”. The book, Leading Out Loud, is listed in my Amazon Collections List: The NICE Reboot-Female Entrepreneur Reading List, (which I am presently compiling/revising for my upcoming list of recent links in my soon to be published book by Maven House Press) which showcases thought leadership in keeping with my NICE philosophy. One that advocated for embracing and using technology; carefully and creatively.
Technology is actually about humanity triumphing over machine. It’s about prioritizing potential for artistic expression and change (which can promote progress) over stagnant behaviors and static thinking (which can derail progress). It’s about sequentially highlighting for others the process to increase productivity and creativity. Both are needed by people interested in leaving a tangible or intangible legacy behind for the next generation.
That is why it is so important to teach our children Digital Citizenship early on. Read Terry Heick’s brilliant article from May 2013 to learn how. It is time for more people to integrate technology into best practices for entrepreneurship, social reform, and education. I recommend perusing Med Kharbach’s fantastic website and very recent blogpost on the differences between digital natives and digital immigrants. I would love to see more women join both the Tech Revolution and the Entrepreneurial Revolution by getting involved with App development (like I did), social media marketing, Tech Events, and founding tech startups that will do the Sisterhood proud.
Tech Events and target audiences for technology marketers used to be “male dominated”. Isn’t that what they’re saying about entrepreneurship? Wouldn’t it be great NOT to read this kind of incisive, scathing but spot on op-ed article for NPR by Elise Hu after a Tech-Crunch Disrupt Event? Wouldn’t it be great to see MORE such clever, creative articles like this one by Allison Reiber on Mashable, re-imagining Downton Abbey in the Digital Age, and praising technology and its impact on education, communication, and quality of life?
There’s a really funny commercial going viral for T-Mobile right now. In a BRILLIANT marketing campaign, two parents are trying to get us to “find Jeremy”, their happy go lucky son touring Europe and causing them steadily rising cell phone bills and blood pressure. The ads are clearly geared to Millenials who often joke about their technophobic parents, and to their parents who don’t “get” why they’re kids are addicted to their mobile devices. I adore these ads, especially this one dubbed “Day 3”. In it, the mom hysterically yells, “Close an App!”. I double over, laughing hysterically, (yes, I’ve been told I have an *interesting* sense of humor!) every time I hear this phrase. Even if I don’t recommend that to my fellow female entrepreneurs and seminar attendees in Real Time.
I think Jeremy definitely needs to close a few Apps and apologize profusely to his poor parents for giving them pounding headaches, for the bills, and for not indicating his whereabouts. It’s post 9-11, Jeremy, and post the Great Recession, Jeremy! I would think that staying frugal and connected would be important to you!
But seriously, while Jeremy is being told to close those Apps, I’m here to tell women in Real Time that it’s time to open them.
There has NEVER been a better time to become a female entrepreneur. The new iPads are about to debut, which will up the ante and creativity quotient for all those in the tech industry; buyers and sellers. Ahhhh…..the good old supply and demand seesaw is about to get a real workout in technological and entrepreneurial arenas. Times are changing. Freelancers are the new breed of entrepreneurs. Social entrepreneurship and social technology are being studied, analyzed, and implemented. Women are already poised to become linchpins because we already know that relationships matter.
I’m a visual learner, who sees patterns all around me. That’s why I advocate for technology. That’s why I advocate for entrepreneurship. That’s why I advocate for iPad integration into our misc. workflows. All three, separately and together, can help us learn things better; about ourselves and others. Do things better; for ourselves and others. Do that proverbial work/life balance better, and therefore become better versions of ourselves.
Fall has officially arrived in many parts of the USA, including my neck of the woods, and the trees are losing their foliage. Isn’t it time for you to turn over a new leaf and become a better female entrepreneur? To capitalize on the App trend? To integrate and balance technology with your humanity? To better use technology to unleash your own creativity, tap into your unlimited potential, and to soar?
As you sail by, PLEASE use technology to connect with me and The NICE Initiative for Female Entrepreneurship. Please join my circles on Google + drop me a line on Facebook-The NICE Initiative for Female Entrepreneurship (please like it too, thanks!), or Email me at Penina@niceinitiative.com. You can also follow me on Twitter-@PopGoesPenina, and Pinterest. I’d love to know more about you and how technology has helped you on your own entrepreneurial journey.
I’d love to include your comments in a future blogpost! In my next blogpost on Tumblr, I’d like to write about Lesson 3: social media use and entrepreneurship. In the meantime, you can catch up on my musings and read my other blogposts on The Huffington Post and Wordpress, and hopefully my NICE Reboot book. Thanks for dropping by…..I hope to see you again soon!
"Our humanity rests on a series of learned behaviors."
- Margaret Mead
"Humanity is just a work in progress."
- Tennessee Williams
In an effort to sync my Wordpress blog to this one, and before I return this week to write about Lesson 2, I wanted to post this today. I wanted to make sure that I include this caveat about being human: balancing architecture and artistry in today’s increasingly tech-driven, fast paced, and emotionally and mentally grueling startup culture.
What does it mean to be human? You can read my answer from my Wordpress blogpost here.
Why does it matter to female entrepreneurs? Don’t we know that answer, especially because we are emotionally and biologically hard-wired to share it with the next generation?
In short, to build a better version of the next generation, we need to start by building a better version of ourselves first. That means learning lessons from our past, preparing for the future, and still living in the moment. It basically means finding ways to stay human in a high tech, increasingly fragmented world, and achieving overall BALANCE!
It’s a delicate formula to tweak, because of so many outside factors contributing to our slower than anticipated rate of growth; personally and professionally. Rieva Lesonsky, one of my most admired virtual mentors, just wrote an interesting article about the professional aspect. It’s entitled “Why Aren’t Women-Owned Businesses Growing Faster?” I was interviewed for this important article and in it, tried to answer her question.
But there are other reasons, which tie into the quest for humanity, and balancing it with technology, which is the essence of my upcoming book and the theme of this blog.
As I wrote in my other blog on Wordpress, being human means aspiring to achieve balance while inexplicably remaining a work in progress. That is why ongoing learning and accessing thought leadership in particular, is so important to me.
Thought leadership always reflects the trends of the times, and the time has come for human beings to explore ways to live a richer, more balanced life; reassembled, redefined, and reexplained. I personally think being human is all about finding that elusive balance we all crave, between the seen/unseen, the steadfast/fleeting, and the architecture and artistry that exist in all things around us in this world.
That is why I will be writing lesson 2 shortly; entrepreneurial lessons about technology. In the meantime, thanks to my content curation from my awesome Zite App for iPad and from my Twitter feed @PopGoesPenina, I have been cross-referencing articles for future blogposts about architecture and technology, artistry and creativity, and everything in between. What’s on my radar? Two websites/people worth checking out, for both their contributions to the human quest to DO WORK THAT MATTERS and for the sheer artistry and cool design of their digital footprints!
2. Andrea Vascellari and his website.
Stay tuned and keep on doing work that matters too…..
"I think it takes searching for the details for any artist to be good."
- Barbara Streisand
"Talking about music is like dancing about architecture."
- Steve Martin
Part 1: Good Public Speaking is an Art, Not a Trait!
Readers who have followed me, especially this month, know that I’ve been busy lecturing and giving my Socially Speaking™ Seminars around the USA. I’ve been methodically campaigning to change the way educators (and parents) integrate behavior management and technology, namely iPad Apps into the academic curriculum, especially with young children with Autism. For those interested, you can view my educational technology and Autism intervention website and products here.
Public speaking, and crafting a seminar complete with a digital slideshow presentation and handout for the audience is actually a balancing act of oxymoronic behaviors. One needs to juxtapose educational content with entertaining delivery, while keeping in mind the audience’s Theory of Mind (i.e. perspective) and short attention span overall. I often joke that giving a speech in public is kind of like inviting the circus to perform on the front lawn, while simultaneously building a house, and designing the landscaping for the grounds being stomped on. A presenter needs to meticulously craft the speech to be a masterpiece of comic timing, relevant information, and catchy phrases that will stick in the episodic memory of the listeners, long after the speech is over.
Many people will tell you that being a good public speaker is an inborn natural talent, like being funny, singing, or having a great sense of direction. I have been told that I have the first two, and have learned to compensate for my lousy sense of direction by being hyper-vigilant about landmarks and relying on my GPS.
This has taught me that while there is some truth to the nature vs. nurture debate people have engaged in for decades, skills CAN be honed; especially when they are studied and practiced. Remember the Julie and Julia movie? What about Remember the Titans? Promoting changes in thinking and behavior are signs of intellectual, emotional, and moral growth. That’s why I became a speech therapist for young children with Autism, and later a professional consultant and keynote speaker. Human beings CAN change, and surprise themselves and those around them….each and every day. I’ve learned this being part of the school system and teaching a wide variety of children. I’ve learned this during time spent teaching colleagues and strangers how to use Mac software or iPad Apps to achieve better work/life balance, a smoother workflow, and a more multi-sensory learning experience. I’ve also learned this being part of a time honored ritual known as The Dating Game; in Real Time and in Cyber Time, since Internet dating is becoming more common now.
Technology CAN be used to foster personal growth! That’s why I have been following the Apple iPad Event of 10/22/13 and the aftermath, so closely. That is why I am drawn to specific articles I see in my Zite App for iPad, my Google + feed, and from the twitterati whom I follow, and who follow me. What it all boils down to is one simple rule to follow; in entrepreneurship, in public speaking arenas, and in life:
Act Like an Architect, Think Like an Artist! Plan for the outcome, but deviate from the script and be prepared for, and even learn to embrace change and the surprises along the way.
Ladies in particular will remember the great book by comic Steve Harvey, which was also made into a funny movie: Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man. I love quotes from others, as you may have guessed! That’s why I was hooked from the start, when I read the endorsement of Aretha Franklin who said,
“Women should listen to Steve Harvey when it comes to what a good man is about. Steve Harvey dispenses a lot of fabulous information about men.”
But who dispenses great advice about public speaking? About acting like an architect, yet thinking like an artist? About creating an experience that wows the audience, the user of the product(s) being hawked, and everyone in between?
You can find lessons and inspiration in unlikely areas. Books, the media, and watching other speakers in action at conferences and on YouTube. Learning the stories about others in your situation can provide virtual mentorship along the way. But in the end, it is all about learning from your own inner voice and your own journey. You can be at work or about to give a speech and something happens. You come across that proverbial fork in the road and have to decide between “winging it” or “plodding on according to plan”. You can have a mathematically formulated plan about your life, but its execution takes on unexpected and poetic “stopovers” and accumulated variables that force you to change course and sometimes even your outlook.
Karen Blixen AKA Isak Dinesen (whom Meryl Streep played in the film Out of Africa) knew this. Dian Fossey (whom Sigourney Weaver played in the film Gorillas in the Mist) knew this. Margaret Mead and Steve Jobs lived this. So did the fictitious, likable, well drawn character Jake Sully (played by Sam Worthington) in James Cameron’s film Avatar. It is my favorite movie to date. It has profoundly changed the way I see human interactions and relationships, and social entrepreneurship. (I discuss that more in my book, and will be writing a future blogpost about that in my Wordpress blog.)
Acting like an architect is a good thing. One needs to have goals and devise a system to achieve them. Paying attention to the sequence of events/process and drafting a blueprint of conduct, a personal code and credo irrespective of gender, race, faith, and socio-economic status enriches a person’s physical existence and mental wellbeing. It helps one feel a sense of belonging, through orderly association with others and methodical execution of deeds designed to preserve that order. It makes for a productive, purposeful life, one rife with meaning and personal satisfaction.
But thinking like an artist allows one to interpret social reality in a whole new way. It allows one to make something out of nothing, and to purposefully explore and exploit patterns in an innovative, holistic, and positive manner. Thinking like an artist helps a person emotionally rise above his/her initiatlly solitary existence in a way that precise movements and actions cannot. It helps one transition from Me to We as needed. How? By allowing the person to notice details, to fully absorb one’s surroundings using all of the five senses, and then recreate those impressions for others to share and learn from.
When I attended Hubspot’s Inbound 2013 Marketing Conference in Boston this past August, I was asked repeatedly what I was doing there. I was not a marketer. I was not even a graduate student getting an MBA! I was a self trained female entrepreneur (with a soon to be published book but only three years of experience to draw from) whose products are somewhat B2B and somewhat technological: public speaking skills, and a social skills curriculum for children with Autism that I turned into a series of professional seminars and into an App for iPad (The Socially Speaking™ Social Skills Test), and am now turning into a book. But I felt I should be there, and that I had a right to be there. One amongst 5000 people milling about trying to learn a few takeaways and network. I already understood in ways that many old-school non-inbound content marketers have now realized, that the business landscape has dramatically changed in the past two years. Social media venues, blogs, shrinking global economies and ease of communication and travel between geographical locations are empowering consumers and driving markets like never before.
That is why true artists and entrepreneurs such as Arianna Huffington, Pamela Slim, and Seth Godin, (whom I previously wrote about on this Tumblr blog) were featured keynote speakers at Inbound 2013. They were chosen on purpose, to address an audience which is largely made up of marketers who were initiatlly taught to have an architectural mentality when it comes to business. But Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, who both founded Hubspot, had a running theme that would have been unheard of a few years ago. They, and many other presenters, kept speaking about “being human, being remarkable, and being a storyteller”.
Those are signs that you are thinking like an artist! That is why I trust Brian Halligan when he provides 6 tips for "delivering the best speech of your life".
It’s time for more speakers, marketers, entrepreneurs, and even consumers to think like an artist, about the products they buy/sell and use, or want to buy/sell/use in the future. To enhance quality of life. To orchestrate meaningful change. To collectively remain human and individually remain a work in progress, in an increasingly high-tech and fragmented world. It’s time for us to approach ventures, projects, and yes, even world problems from a different viewpoint. One that’s no longer just about seeing the Big Picture on the drafting table, crafting a solution to the problem, and first delivering it to focus groups and big business venture capitalists. We need to start seeing patterns in the details, and using multiple intelligences and multiple devices to harness time, technology, and artistic insight. We need to create our Story and share it with others who can work with us to help mankind grow.
A person who epitomizes this first lesson re: using storytelling and artistry in public messages was Steve Jobs. I wrote this in my just published weekly article for the Huffington Post, which you can read here. But I feel the need to write it again……
Steve Jobs was a true artist and master storyteller. He instilled in Apple’s DNA the potential for producing technology with the extraordinary ability to grow a cult following while still retaining one’s individuality. He started a tradition of excellent showmanship, public speeches, and easy to understand technology demos that are all now expected from entrepreneurs today. I’ve used different incarnations of Apple products professionally for two decades, and see that Apple consistently delivers on its promise of seamless partnership between design and function. The iPad is not flawless, but it is singlehandedly shaping up to be the most elegantly designed, multi-sensory, disruptive innovation “It Product” of the decade. Best of all, its commercials, like the iPad Air ad, are spawning an era of artistic, digital visualization storytelling style marketing. One which highlights the ever growing need for staying a work in progress, which is part of being human and connected, in a high-tech and increasingly fragmented world.
In my next post I will write about Lesson 2: Technology is implemented by successful entrepreneurs artistically, not architecturally! I will share some books on my radar, some insights into the real purpose of disruptive innovation, and some tips about honing your artistic storytelling skills.
Whether you start to consider buying a new iPad, or brushing up on your artistic know-how, I hope that this post will give you food for thought about the importance of BALANCE. That’s why the title of my upcoming book is The NICE Reboot: How to Become a Better Entrepreneur: How to Balance Your Craving for Humanity and Technology in Today’s Startup Culture.
Wishing you success in finding a balance that works for you!
"I think a hero is any person really intent on making this a better place for all people."
- Maya Angelou
"You are what you repeatedly do."
I am a “road warrior” this month of October. My days are defined by the various seminars I am giving around the USA, the traveling arrangements I am making en-route to my “gigs”, and the stolen moments I take for myself in between. Moments strung together where I attempt to soak up the scenery, culture, and energy in the various locations I find myself in. Knoxville. Minneapolis. Chicago. San Antonio. Corpus Christi. Philadelphia. Those stolen moments in these places are the most important for me, because of what I choose to do with them. That is what defines me; as a sentient human being, as a woman, and as an entrepreneur.
I chose to catch the tail end of the Chicago Marathon on Sunday, and then visit Millennium Park’s most famous landmark, “The Bean”. I wanted to people watch, soak up some sun/ outdoors/nature, and view some free art, all at the same time- if possible. I believe in the power of conversing with strangers, reading, and experiencing beauty (nature, art); all of which expand one’s inner/outer horizons and Theory of Mind (perspective/empathy). All three activities are also needed to help fuel dreams and bridge aspirations and achievements; the delicate thread we walk like a taut tightrope for most of our adult lives.
I wrote about why reading matters in my latest blogpost on Wordpress, which you can read here. The Huffington Post just published my article about the Chicago Marathon, and the three entrepreneurial lessons I learned there.
History, stories in books, and social gatherings such as marathons are full of examples of people for whom the old Latin phrase “Carpe Diem” (“seize the day”) is still current. Heroism is defined in many dictionaries as “great bravery”. Acts of courage by their very definition are exemplified through deeds, some of which are executed in a split second, and some over time. Heroism can be demonstrated on a small scale, such as those runners in the Chicago Marathon who are now running to show support for those who ran in the Boston Marathon and never will again. Heroism on a large scale is seen by people in the public eye who understand Shakespeare’s comment that “all the world’s a stage” and choose to use their fame and/or notoriety for good.
A great example of the latter is Malala, the Pakinstani teenager nominated for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize. While she is not a Nobel laureate, she is still an invaluable advocate for children’s education, girls’ rights, and more recently, drone strikes. Malala represents the power of activism using social media, (she reportedly secretly blogged for the BBC as a young girl under Taliban rule and was later shot for trying to attend school), and the prototype for social entrepreneurship that our world’s girls should aspire to. She has spanned the bridge between aspiration and achievement in such a short amount of time, which is no mean feat, as many startup entrepreneurs will attest!
Diane Bertolin, a bright, insightful writer/blogger and Canadian marketing consultant, sums up the “Malala Phenomenon” best in her latest blogpost:
"She is the innocent. She looks at the world with wonder and freedom, and she does not see any limits to what she and others can achieve. She has activated her archetypal potential at such a young age that it makes me green with envy."
- Collective Publishing Company Blog, “The Heroine and the Hero-Malala and Adrian Peterson” by Diane Bertolin, October 14, 2013
I have been following Diane’s excellently written, thought provoking blogposts about Archetypal Consulting for a while now, and eagerly devour each new entry. I am fascinated with Diane’s analyses, and tips on how to better understand what different people “bring to the table”; as customers, as prospective dates and mates, and as heroes and heroines who leave their mark on society. I highly recommend that you read these very interesting articles, not just because you are a woman and possibly pursuing entrepreneurship or marketing ventures, but because they resonate with our collective human endeavor to harness time.
Heroism is the outcome for a select few who publicly and successfully navigate those moments, where we walk that aspiration/achievement tightrope, and influence the thoughts and actions of another. Even if that person is a friend or family member. Even if the heroism is seen by a few, and for a brief interlude. That is why it is time to redefine the parameters of both heroism and the entrepreneurial aspiration of “having it all”.
In my next post, I hope to provide an excerpt from my book, The NICE Reboot- A Guide to Becoming a Better Female Entrepreneur: How to Balance Your Craving for Humanity and Technology in Today’s Startup Culture. I want to write here on Tumblr about three pervasive, unproductive myths which female entrepreneurs need to debunk. One of them is “you can have it all”. It’s a nice yet unrealistic expectation and aspiration.
In reality, it is impossible to achieve it all, and is in fact undesirable in the long run.
Lea Woodward argues this point in her entrepreneurial post for Forbes on 10/15/13, "Why You Don’t Need to Be All-Powerful to Have it All". I will sum up this must read article, and interpret it using my NICE lens. Lea provides a blueprint for bridging the gap between aspiration(s) and achievement by suggesting female entrepreneurs ask themselves three difficult questions. The answers to these questions then become the basis of both your business plan and Mission Statement:
1. What’s my goal/purpose and the amount of desired impact on others?
2. What kind of resulting lifestyle do I want; psychologically, financially, and spiritually?
3. What is my Entrepreneurial Modus Operandi (M.O.) to help me achieve?
• What’s my Emotional Quotient (EQ) for interpersonal skills?
• What’s my Tech IQ re: productivity, time management, and outcome?
At the end of the day, your reactions and actions at specific moments in time are what shape you; as a thinking human being, as a potential hero/heroine for others. You already have within you many tools to fuel your dreams, and help you bridge that gap between aspiration and achievement. The whole world’s a stage, and we are all players in the greatest show on earth. You have one of the best seats in the house….what with social media, the Internet, and cheaper travel costs! All of which are making it easier than ever, to search for, and learn from heroes and heroines all over the globe. I hope you will attend the show, and keep your ticket as proof of purchase. Living a life of higher purpose means that you have actively chosen to purchase moments that define you….. and immortalize you in the eyes of those whose lives you touch.
"When I stand before God at the end of my life I would hope…..I could say, I used everything you gave me."
"Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans."
- John Lennon
"Your time is limited so don’t waste it living someone else’s life."
- Steve Jobs
Today is John Lennon’s birthday. While his music lives on, so do his wise words. I saw his famous quote (below) on Google + feeds, courtesy of The Huffington Post. We also just commemorated the 2nd anniversary of the passing of Steve Jobs. I wrote about what I learned from him as a writer/blogger in my latest post on Wordpress, which you can access here.
Overall, October is a strange month for me personally and professionally. It is a month rife with opportunities for professional growth, as seen from the plethora of conferences in the USA. I myself am a road warrior this month, enthusiastic albeit exhausted, as I travel and wear my Educational Technology Consultant and Autism Specialist hats, speaking around the USA and networking. October is also the month where we can engage in “paying it forward” behaviors by getting involved in various causes, to promote change.
One such cause is National Breast Cancer Awareness month, important to me for two reasons. The first is Erma Bombeck, who was one of my favorite writers and first female entrepreneurial heroines. Her musings entranced me in junior high school when I read her books for extra credit (I wanted to wriggle out of having to sew, and to this day, I can’t even sew a hem!) in a home economics course given by a teacher with a sense of humor about us, and what life was going to be like for us post high school. I’ll never forget how Erma’s mastectomy in the 90s made me pause. Her resiliency and sense of humor strengthened, Erma went on to do her best work in my opinion, when she wrote about lessons on animal behavior from Loehmann’s Dressing Room. There are used copies available on Amazon.
The second reason this month is bittersweet for me is Dr. Natalie “Nechah” Hochstein PsyD. She was my first professional mentor as well as childhood friend to transition into adulthood, educational service, and entrepreneurship. Her sudden decline in October 2012 and subsequent passing in December 2012, after a valiant 3 year struggle with breast cancer, made me come to a complete stop.
But I had to reboot. I had to restart my engine and move on. So I promised myself that I would now try to live each day with purpose, and keep the flame alive so to speak, by helping others and spreading lessons I have learned from my own journey; the good, the bad, the painful, and the sublime. That is partially why I have started The NICE Initiative. That is partially why I have started blogging; here, on Wordpress, and even in The Huffington Post.
Which begs the question; What is a writer? Apparently others have pondered this question in the blogsphere, as recently as August 2013. In a post by AC Flory on Indies Unlimited, the validity of this sentence is questioned: “A real writer tries to communicate something bigger, more universal than just one person’s opinion….Nope, sorry. A writer may aggregate the opinions of a whole lot of people, distilling them into some essence that is greater than its parts, but it is still opinion.”
The gift a true writer has is the ability to convey ideas, messages, and stories whose content highlights the fact that you the writer
• Totally “get it” and really show that, whatever “that” is
• Can actually write!
Erma Bombeck was interviewed about the last point, which you can view on YouTube or here. The art in writing is not just the process, but the outcome, its effect, on the reader and those he/she comes in contact with and interacts with, long after viewing the writings that had an impact in the first place.
As someone who is trying to spread the message of the importance of turning Me> We in multiple arenas; education, Autism intervention, and even entrepreneurship, I frequently think about how I am conveying this. I believe that a writer does try to communicate something that resonates with us collectively in some way. A writer tries to craft what could be, what is, what was, and why, in a way that provides insight into the human condition and all its facets and foibles.
At the end of the day, I would advise that a person live life like they are about to be written about….in someone else’s blogpost or book. I also a recommend that writers live by this credo, attributed to Benjamin Franklin (below). It’s especially disquieting to read this article about the book written about Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter.
I wish more writers out there (especially amateur ones on Twitter :) would write something worth reading and do something worth writing. October is passing us all by……
It is no coincidence that October is rife with Calls to Actions (CTA) in various industries. I am on the road this month lecturing at conventions; networking with others interested in growing and promoting change, and spreading my message as both an Autism Specialist and social entrepreneur who happens to be female. My message is simple: It’s time to turn Me > We.
I commend my fellow female social entrepreneur Aurora Chiste for her latest debut today. Stay tuned for my impressions of the Hack for Big Choices Launch!
I also commend my fellow speech therapist, female social entrepreneur, and road warrior Shannon Benton, for her awesome CLASP International Project, which will have a fund raising gala in November.
I attended the first ever, practical, well organized, networking female entrepreneurship conference in New York City last Wednesday 9/25/13. Kudos to Laura Leites and Adrienne Garland the organizers, the varied speakers, attendees, and female entrepreneurs out there, trying to make a difference and help The Sisterhood. WomanCon 2013 was a big success, in part due to it’s incisive program, and in part for its networking opportunities at regularly scheduled intervals. I learned much that day, and still need time to process, follow up, and peruse my copious notes taken with my Notes and Tree Notepad Apps for iPad! You can see what was offered, including an overview of the Agenda of the Day.
In my other blog on Wordpress, my book blog if you will, I already wrote about the wonderfully practical, helpful, and knowledgeable panel about raising funds, moderated by one of my favorite virtual mentors Geri Stengel. Peggy Wallace, Lori Hoberman, and Kay Kaplovitz gave succinct information, definitions, tips, and answers to common questions re: bootstrapping, venture capital, angel investors, and crowd funding options for female entrepreneurs. Peggy Wallace in particular was quite helpful and gave two good suggestions which you can access here:
The last seminar of the day was given by a humorous, understated Pamela O’Hara, CEO of Batchbook. Her topic particularly interested me, as a human behaviorist and female entrepreneur who embraces technology. The topic was "Being Human in a High-Tech World". Since The NICE Initiative is ALL about balancing humanity with technology in today’s startup culture, I was all ears, and eyes. Her digital slideshow was visually subtle yet packed a punch. So did her ideas. I would like to paraphrase them for you, while asking you to keep in mind the two previous Tumblr posts I wrote on Entrepreneurial Lessons from A Child, which were expounded upon in my third Huffington Post article:
Pam O’Hara provided basic guidelines for female entrepreneurship in an increasingly high-tech world in seven steps. Here are the 7 takeaways I took from her terrific presentation. I have obviously used my NICE Lens to interpret her messages, as they are worth heeding. Here is my take on it, a Call to Action (CTA) for female entrepreneurs:
Here’s my latest article for my column in The Huffington Post’s Business Section……what the past week can teach us as female entrepreneurs:
Speaking of female entrepreneurship, I’m headed to New York City now and will be attending WomanCon 2013!
Last week in part 1 of this blogpost, I wrote about Drive By Learning, and the intertwining of technology and the Internet as tools of virtual mentorship that can be wielded for good, especially by female entrepreneurs. I further expounded on this idea in my latest Wordpress blogpost, which you can access here:
"A Tale of Two Innovations"
Today I want to write about the recent news re: the continuation of technology and Internet innovation, in lockstep with the continuing education movement. I will also further touch on implications for female entrepreneurs, whose work/life balance hinges on the harnessing of time and technology, to make it work for them.
I’ve already written in this blog about the importance of mentorship in any profession, but especially in female entrepreneurship. I have started a running theme about the importance of Reverse Mentorship, which I wrote about in my upcoming book, a little in my 2 blogs, and plan on writing of it again in a future article for my weekly column on Female Entrepreneurship in The Huffington Post’s Business Section. Stay tuned….
What I want to point out today is that Reverse Mentorship, (the term referring to the act of teaching a mentee provides for his/her mentee), coined by GE’s former CEO Jack Welch, may be the most important example of disruptive innovation, and purveyor of it, in the past 2 years. Especially because of its versatile nature! It is individualized, customized, should be prioritized, and is perhaps one of the most crucial aspects to today’s entrepreneurship. It has an active component, in that it can literally pivot a person’s career and jumpstart innovation and leadership, especially thought leadership.
But Reverse Mentorship can also happen passively, when one is “plugged in”, to take a phrase from the excellent movie Social Network, about the founders of Facebook. Advances in technology and Internet distribution have made it easy for anyone to learn, to let curiosity reign, and to be a student; online, in private, even at home wearing pajamas! This has singularly allowed female entrepreneurs in particular to harness time, make it work for them, and pace themselves re: the bell curve and playing catchup- How?
Answer: Open Source Technology Learning Opportunities, such as Massive Open Online Courses AKA MOOCs.
What is that?
Instead of writing an explanation, I invite you to read this 8/30/13 post:
Now you can see what’s out there for the taking, by perusing this site:
Educational technology is a hot topic online, especially on Google +. I personally recommend and follow the writings of Larry Press, the EdTech Google + Community, and the website/Twitter Feed of Med Kharbach’s Educational Technology and Mobile Learning:
On 9/10/13, the same day Apple™ Inc. unveiled the new iPhones 5S & 5C, news broke, thanks largely to Larry Press on Google +, that edX and Google™ were joining forces to expand on Open Source Platform opportunities for more people to partake of the Internet, for learning. For expanding horizons and job opportunities. For good.
"We envision that the site will become an ideal way to develop and refine novel online learning experiences.This new site for online learning will provide a platform for colleges, universities, businesses and individuals around the world to produce high-quality online and blended courses. MOOC.org will be built on Google infrastructure."
Patterns. I believe in patterns. I also believe that the recent push for innovation seen from Apple™ Inc. and edX is ushering in a new age of Reverse Mentorship, and there has NEVER been a better time for a female entrepreneur to board the train, and become part of this historic ride and pivot. A successful entrepreneur is one who studies patterns, positively exploits them, and brings forth a solution to a global problem, thereby orchestrating meaningful change; economically and socially.
As I wrote in my latest article for The Huffington Post, “Entrepreneurship has always been redefined as tech/cultural/economic trends shift. But the rapidly increasing shifts means that it will now become a more individualistic yet collaborative, fluid process and venue for people, especially women to partake of.”
Virtual Mentorship, especially when used for technology and Internet innovation, is predicated on asking questions, stemming from collaboration and curiosity. I wrote in my HuffPost article, “We are living in the “iEra” where the question “why not?’ has never been more relevant. I believe that one needs to be a lifelong student of the “why not” school of thought, to counteract inertia, boredom, and arrogance. Especially in today’s day and age, where people are living longer lives, and having several career changes, in a more morally ambiguous and globally fragmented society.”
Q: What are the implications for female entrepreneurs?
A: Reverse Mentorship, specifically re: technological and Internet innovations such as MOOCs, is the new currency and method of leveling the playing field for global, female entrepreneurship. The ramifications for disruptive innovation is HUGE! Especially for female entrepreneurs in the USA, already worried about the increasing outsourcing of jobs, and competing with men in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) arena where historically we’ve been outnumbered for years.
Don’t believe me? Read this:
Now read this, one of the MOST crucial articles on entrepreneurship I ever read:
This last article, one of the most important articles of the past 6 months in my opinion, got on my radar when it first appeared on my Zite App for iPad, and has been favorited in my Pocket App and cited in my book. Here’s your wakeup call, ladies! You have two secret weapons; a high emotional IQ and good collaboration skills. You are thus biologically and historically positioned to ride this new wave, especially if you are a professional educator and/or Front Line health professional to begin with!
Writer and serial entrepreneur Jeff Hoffman writes,
"You want to grow. You don’t have connections in global markets, but they do. This new generation of online-educated entrepreneurs can bring your product or service to their market much faster and more effectively than you can.
So what should you do?
Find them. Employ them. And partner with them.”
I agree. But I would like to add, first do your homework. Bookmark these Internet sites such as MakeUseOf.com, TED.com, Coursera.org, and check out the content:
Let me end with my comment in another groundbreaking article from the past 6 months on the nature of technology and disruptive innovation:
<There are still> people thinking there is a “right time” to be an entrepreneur! That’s a myth! While one needs to devote time to accrue experience and hone skills in a chosen field of study, today’s global market, social media transparency and open source technology, and cultural trends driving commerce have all made it a GREAT time to become an entrepreneur! Women in particular are unknowingly or knowingly positioning themselves to be linchpins and deploy meaningful disruptive innovation, especially but not necessarily in the educational and healthcare sectors; despite our historic and biological tendency to gravitate to those arenas.
Attention female entrepreneurs: Start your engines!
"You have to remember no matter what, that God loves all the flowers, even the wild ones that grow on the side of the highway."
- Cyndi Lauper
" When I’m driving the highway by myself is when I write best"
- Willie Nelson
Yesterday was my Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur, a day of introspection about life, and how we live it. It was a day to ponder my past, my present, and my future, which I believe are all in God’s hands. I took time to reflect on my reality and perceptions about being “in the driver’s seat” in my own Story and road trip. Today is Sunday, which means many of us are on the road, driving. We are driving with the music blaring, singing along. We are driving quietly, hopefully using the hands-free mode for our smartphones, and of course no texting! We are driving alone. We are driving with others in the car. We are driving with a set location in mind. We are driving with no location in mind, for the sake of getting out on our day off. Some of us take a Sunday drive for the sheer pleasure of being alive, or for the highway driving experience itself.
Americans have always had a love affair with transversing the open road. From the Oregon Trail to Route 66, the “Mother Road”, as John Steinbeck called it in his Grapes of Wrath, we have romanticized, immortalized, and idealized that highway to yonder. Roads have long symbolized man’s quest for connection with others, seeking information, and a better way of life. Route 66 in particular, an American highway between Chicago and Santa Monica which was officially commissioned in 1926, sung about in 1946 by Nat King Cole, and officially dismantled in 1985 (when the increasing interstate highways and urbanization of our cities devalued its appeal), has long stayed in our collective inner landscape. It has represented that the journey IS the point, not just getting from point A to point B.
In fact, our national repository of memorabilia large and small, the venerable Smithsonian Museum in our country’s capital, Washington D.C. even had an exhibit on Route 66, and ran several articles on it in 2009:
As someone who believes in patterns, and that nothing is random, I find it interesting that 2009 was the same way on embarked on my own journey down my own inner Route 66; that of female entrepreneurship. Interestingly, over the past 3 years as I have given my Socially Speaking™ Seminars around the USA, I have personally made it my goal to drive as much of the historic Route 66 as I could. I have partially achieved it.
I have driven portions of it in New Mexico, Arizona, and California. I hope to have opportunities to drive on it some more, to be touched by others’ history, and in turn, touch the arc of history in my future interactions with others. That is the real beauty of a highway. It allows human beings to attempt to transverse the space- time continuum considered in Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, and in the Star Trek universe. It showcases the optimism, creativity, and potential in every person. Each of us has keys to unlock these building blocks to inner growth and self actualization. Each of us have been given another key to the new Route 66; The Information Superhighway AKA as the Internet. What is the key? Technology.
The Internet has actually been around since 1969, but the advent of the social media movement, which was really heralded in during 2009, has forever changed the trajectory and topography of this new highway. The Internet has singlehandedly synthesized communications and education, making it one of the driving forces behind commerce and social reform today.
For those interested in a brief history of the Internet, this interesting article’s a great place to start:
As you can tell, I am a huge proponent of technology, as a tool to be wielded wisely, for the greater good. I am therefore a fan of the Internet, especially open source, like Project Gutenberg, Wikipedia, the Mozilla Firefox browser, Flickr, and specific boards on Pinterest such as those awesome ones created by fellow speech therapist and Apple™ Techie Lauren Enders. These are all examples of internet based disruptive innovation, created by entrepreneurs, with far reaching impacts across the globe.
The Internet has been the real Most Valuable Player (MVP) as well as the best Minimally Viable Product (also MVP) that we entrepreneurs like to launch as our calling card to gain entry into the startup zeitgeist and upper echelons of Corporate America. It has helped us connect and has helped us learn. Virtual mentorship is at an all time high, thanks to the dawn of the Massive Open, Online Course (MOOC), sites like Coursera.org, thought leadership found in people’s blogs such as Lynn Bardowski’s Million Dollar Party Girl: http://www.milliondollarpartygirl.com and Thomas White’s Heart of a Leader, http://heartofaleader.wordpress.com.
Virtual Mentorship is also a term I coined, the result of curating content from specific organized sites such as LinkedIn, the Hubspot blog, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc. and other news magazines, or the Zite App for mobile devices.
The Information Superhighway i.e. the Internet, has singlehandedly provided virtual mentorship and laid tracks for one’s entrepreneurial train to transverse, so why does it still get a bad rap?
I was quite disturbed to read Rob May’s article in Venture Beat's Business Section, “How the Internet is Killing Innovation”.
"The Internet has taken startup culture, which used to be a collection of eccentric misfits, and homogenized it."
I respectfully disagree with this statement, and this article, almost in its entirety; as a woman, an educator/educational technology consultant, a human behaviorist, and entrepreneur. I’m a misfit in the corporate/business world having been in the educational world for 2 decades, with a master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology, not finance. My unique perspective provides me with a creative approach to collaboration and problem solving, both cornerstones of a successful entrepreneurial process. Bloggers in general tend to start out as a band misfits, many of whom often highlight a controversial or specialized point of view. Their crucial perspectives drive thought leadership and begin revolutions. Female entrepreneurs by large are still misfits in a male dominated arena, especially in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) even in 2013. I actually prefer to think of the heterogenous mix of female entrepreneurs seen in today’s startup culture as heterogenous trailblazers and outliers carving a niche for ourselves at specific juncture of our own Journey, to join the highway, or entice others on it to get off at the next exit and spend time with us, helping us promote change.
I call this phenomenon Drive By Learning. A phenomenon where we get a window, an allotment of time, to plant the seeds of innovation, nurture them, and harvest the lessons learned and the lives changed, while never getting off the proverbial road. Unlike men, the reality of our schedules and brain’s hardwiring give us the pleasure, privilege, and painstaking mission to multitask and make it all about The Process. At first. As one of my mentors Dr. Susan Fralick- Ball says, “The journey is the blessing!”
I wish you all blessings on your own journeys on the various highways; real or virtual, and an easier time to engage yourself and others in Drive By Learning!
To be continued…….